Wounded Man United host Chelsea in fascinating FA Cup quarter-final
Posted Saturday, March 9 2013 at 02:00
Rivalry re-ignited: Sir Alex Ferguson and Rafa Benitez are sworn rivals
Manchester United will aim to vent their feelings of injustice on holders Chelsea in the FA Cup this weekend after a controversial Champions League exit against Real Madrid on Tuesday torched their hopes of a treble.
Alex Ferguson’s side have concentrated their firepower on bigger prizes since last lifting the FA Cup for a record 11th time in 2004 when they beat Millwall.
But knocking out the club who have won the FA Cup four times in the last six seasons - including the 2007 final when Chelsea beat United in the first final at the re-built Wembley Stadium - would be some consolation.
The clash at Old Trafford is the standout match of the quarter-finals which also features the all-Premier League tie between Everton and Wigan Athletic.
Manchester City, the 2011 winners, face 1912 winners Barnsley of the Championship and in an all-Championship tie Millwall meet Blackburn Rovers, who knocked out Arsenal in the last round.
“We’ve still got an FA Cup tie and we’re still in a commanding position in the league. So we’ll get over it, we’ll bounce back,” United assistant manager Mike Phelan told the club’s website after United’s 2-1 home defeat by Real Madrid in which Nani was controversially sent off.
“We’ve had disappointments before and we’ll get over this one. We’ll come in (to training) and kick on.
“The players will rally round, the staff will rally round and we’ll be Manchester United right the way through until the end of May.”
Chelsea perhaps have a different emphasis with finishing in the top four of the Premier League and ensuring Champions League qualification the priority although a Cup quarter-final at Old Trafford will focus minds.
Chelsea’s interim manager Rafael Benitez caused a storm last week when he confirmed he was leaving in May and took a swipe at the board and the club’s fans who continue to boo him with the Londoners sitting a perilous fourth in the Premier League table.
However, the Spaniard will relish trying to get one over Ferguson, who he often locked horns with during his time at Liverpool.
Benitez only faced Ferguson once in the FA Cup, masterminding a 1-0 fifth-round victory in 2006 when Liverpool went on to lift the trophy.
Considering they trail United by 12 points in the title race, champions Manchester City’s best hope of salvaging silverware from a disappointing season is the FA Cup and a home game against Barnsley should represent a comfortable route into the semi-finals.
City midfielder Javi Garcia still believes they can overhaul United but for now the priority is avoiding any shocks against Barnsley, who are a mystery to the Spaniard.
“We are only thinking of our FA Cup tie with Barnsley,” he said.